"Restaurant sales posted a solid gain in March, and bounced back completely from the recent soft patch. Eating and drinking place sales totaled $47.3 billion on a seasonally-adjusted basis in March, up 1.1 percent from February's upward-revised sales volume of $46.8 billion, according to preliminary figures from the U.S. Census Bureau.
"The March sales volume matched the previous record high registered in November 2013, and came on the heels of three months in which sales were dampened somewhat by challenging weather conditions.
"Total retail sales also rose 1.1 percent on a seasonally-adjusted basis in March, while grocery store sales edged up 0.2 percent.
"Looking ahead, restaurant operators remain relatively optimistic about the business environment in the coming months. In the NRA's March 2014 Restaurant Industry Tracking Survey, 40 percent of restaurant operators said they expect to have higher sales in six months (compared to the same period in the previous year), which is essentially unchanged from the responses in the previous four months. Only 11 percent of restaurant operators expect their sales volume in six months to be lower than it was during the same period in the previous year, while 49 percent expect their sales to remain about the same.
"In comparison, restaurant operators are somewhat less bullish about the direction of the economy. Twenty-nine percent of restaurant operators said they expect economic conditions to improve in six months, while 16 percent expect the economy to worsen. The remaining 55 percent expect economic conditions to remain generally unchanged in the next six months."
Founded in 1919, the National Restaurant Association is the leading business association for the restaurant industry, which comprises 990,000 restaurant and foodservice outlets and a workforce of more than 13.5 million employees. We represent the industry in Washington, D.C., and advocate on its behalf. We operate the industry's largest trade show (NRA ShowMay 17-20, 2014, in Chicago); leading food safety training and certification program (ServSafe); unique career-building high school program (the NRAEF's ProStart); as well as the Kids LiveWell program promoting healthful kids' menu options. For more information, visit www.restaurant.org and find us on Twitter @WeRRestaurants, Facebook and YouTube.